Gamma World 1e is for sale again! I have Metamorphosis Alpha from Goodman Games, but it's nice to see 1e GW back in pdf and print, all legit.
GW streamlines the subsystem-happy Metamorphosis Alpha - not as much as I would myself, but enough to make a difference. No longer are there different 2d6-for-bows and 3d6-for-laser-guns to-hit rules. I can kind of see the appeal of them - it makes some weapons feel very different! But practically when you're dealing with lots of different armor classes, it seems like it would get clunky.
To streamline GW further you could take the 6 stats - Physical Strength, Dexterity, Constitution, Mental Strength, Intelligence, and Charisma, and run using roll-under rules, Black Hack style. Or roll a d20 + stat >= 20, so you're back in Roll High or Die land. Psychic combat is just two fools rolling their mental strength against one another, radiation is just rolling + Constitution, minus the radiation intensity level.
'There's no attempt to scale things to the players' - Mearls on Gamma WorldAlso, in the vein of Gamma World returning: Mike Mearls is playtesting a new Gamma World, as a 5E DnD hack. It's funny because I'm not super into 5e, but this is really cool. It sounds like Mearls is nailing the gonzo crazy stuff that happens in GW, and also trying to make it not just a 5E DnD game - it sounds more like you go in gameplay loops of exploring, scavenging, discovering, and kinda-sorta base building. That's over here.
More of the system is described here - this char creation is brilliant and right in line with a Black Hack style game. Take 18 dice, distribute them among your stats, roll and see what you get. You can roll 5d6 for one stat and 1d6 for another. The Tech Level stuff is also great - roll under Intelligence, but you better roll _over_ the 1d4, 1d6 or 1d8 you roll for the tech level, or you have a Big Problem. The teddy-bear-shaped claymore mine explodes in your face! The gun starts firing and will not stop! The tank is moving backwards now and accelerating to 60mph! I think that in Mearls' system you're probably rolling over and the 1d4, 1d6, etc is just to make some low roll failures really bad, but I could also see making it 'success with problems' where you figure out how the thing works, but now you have to survive activating it badly!
I am impressed that just a few details about this hack by Mearls are so evocative of GW and so easily transportable to other games, but that's the beauty of these systems - they play off one another and are highly modular. It's easy to take some components from something based on 5E and throw it into a Black Hack hack.